We all know the summer is practically over before it begins, but one of my favorite parts of summer is the influx of interns into Zeno. A group of bright and curious individuals of diverse backgrounds eager to explore the potential of a career in communications descend upon our offices around the world.
Last month, the US interns gathered together for a Q&A session with me. I fielded a wide range of smart and insightful questions from across the country. Among them:
- What skills do you think are most important in order to be successful in this field of work?
- How do you start your day?
- What were the pivotal moments in your career? How do you prepare for a meeting?
All these questions and more made for interesting and dynamic conversation. One thing is certain, these interns are serious about making the most of their summer experience, soaking up all that they can as they chart their course forward.
In addition, I shared with the interns my “fearless five” — five pieces of advice to make the most of their time here and carry with them as they think ahead to what’s next:
- Say Yes More Than You Say No. Being an intern is about new experiences and stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone. If an opportunity to work on a project or take on a new assignment presents itself, grab it. Even if you are not completely sure how to tackle the task at hand, just say yes and then go figure it out. Ask questions of your colleagues and supervisors to fill in whatever gaps there maybe in your understanding. Take initiative and do some research on your own. You will surprise yourself by what you are able to accomplish through common sense, street smarts and sheer determination.
- Speak Your Mind. Don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves to you. If you see a project that interests you, ask how you can get involved and help. Ask to sit in on and observe meetings and brainstorms; offer to be the note taker. Absorb as much as possible. Sometimes everyone is so busy running around that they may forget to include you. Your supervisors will appreciate any and all initiative you take.
- Start Building Your Network Now. Never too soon to start. Look around. There is a high likelihood that some of the interns you are with today may very well be your clients and/or colleagues in five or ten years time. It is not too early to start building your personal network, made all the more easier (than it was for me) by social media. Find reasons and ways to stay in touch with people. You don’t have to be their best friend. It is a small world out there and the people you are meeting in these early, formative years will surely come back into your life somewhere down the road.
- Work in Another Country. The world in which we live is more global than ever. Local news becomes global news in an instant. With technology bringing us all closer together, working in another part of the world is no longer as daunting as it once was. Opening our minds and hearts to different cultures is an educational experience not available in any classroom or business school. Being immersed another culture – even for a short period of time – will inform and enlighten, whatever career path you choose. It will provide an appreciation of the world’s similarities and differences and deepen your understanding of the powerful human truths that shape our lives.
- Build Your Brand. And finally, you are a brand. Nurture and manage your brand. Know who and what you are. Explore new paths. Evolve and be true to who you are. Do not compromise your core values and what is important to you in life. Yes you will change over time and there will be sacrifices you choose to make, but do so in a way that feels right to you as both a person and a professional.